Magic Realism

Magic Realism was an art movement that flourished in Germany mainly in Berlin in the 1920’s It was the last expressionist art movement in Germany before Third Reich Art which was a return to traditional Romantic Realist Art based on the Classical Greek Model.

In the early part of the twentieth century there had been many art movements in Germany they sometimes ran concurrent to each other and artists would join or resign as they saw fit. The century began with the Berlin secession which was founded in 1898, German Expressionism is acknowledged to run from 1905 to 1918, Dei Brucke was founded in 1905, Der Blaue Reiter founded in 1911, German Dada founded 1918, The November Group founded in 1919 and the New Objectivity Movement 1919 which was a reaction to the first world war that was christened Magic Realism in 1925 by Franz Roh and lasted until 1933.

Many of the Artists in Magic realism had been members of these earlier groups and Movements and of course there was the profound effect of the First World War not only on German Artists but on the whole of the German people.

Berlin in the 1920’s was a place of hedonistic pleasures the Circus, the theatre. The cabaret and the accompanying seedier side of entertainment. The Magic realists painted what they saw in all its glory.

In the exhibition prostitutes abound, perhaps the most sensitive being by Jeanne Mammen, Otto Dix is well represented with 2 paintings and 15 drawings and there was a section of expressionist religious paintings.

My favourite painting in the exhibition was the Green Donkey by Chagall, it shouldn’t have been in the exhibition at all because it was painted in 1911 but it was cited as an example of expressive figurative painting that inspired the Magic realists. Chagall, I think, would not have been pleased, he spent his life avoiding being associated with any art movements, although his style does borrow from many movements it is always individually Chagall.

The painting itself is surprisingly small, about A3 size, when I had seen reproductions I had imagined it to be much larger, this is probably due to the vast amount of brushstrokes included in the picture plane. Thinking about it though it was probably small because of the transient lifestyle Chagall led at this time.

Out of the seventy or so works included in the exhibition the Green Donkey made an impression on my companions that came out in the discussion following the tour of the exhibition. We went to the Tate shop to by books mainly but my credit card was severely tempted by a reproduction Anni Albers rug but my head said £750 was a lot to pay for something for the cat to scratch.



Elger, S. (2016) Dadaism. Koln: Taschen

Gale, M. and Wan K (2018) Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-1933. London: Tate Publishing

Kuster U. (2016) Kandinsky Marc & der Blaue Reiter. Basel: Fondation Bayeler

Lorenz, U. (2016) Brucke. Koln: Taschen.

Metzger, R. (2017) Berlin in the 1920’s. Koln: Taschen.

Wolf, N. (2015) Expressionism. Koln: Taschen

The Exhibition

The Tate Modern (2018) Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-1933. London: (Accessed 02/01/19)

What the press said

Jones, J. (2018) Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-1933 review- sex, death and decadence  At: (Accessed 02/01/19)

Spicer, M. (2018) Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-1933. At: (Accessed 02/01/19)

Internet research

Google images (s.d.) Google search. At: (Accessed 06/01/19)

Otto (s.d.) Paintings. At: (Accessed 06/01/19)

Whyte M. (2016) Marc Chagall. At: (Accessed 06/01/19)